'Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth': Morgan Stanley Warns Investors on Virgin Galactic Stock

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

'Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth': Morgan Stanley Warns Investors on Virgin Galactic Stock

Take your pick of metaphors – rocketing, earth shattering, stratospheric - Virgin Galactic stock has been surging this year, up more than 200%. The Mojave-based company now has a market capitalization of $7.2 billion even though it only generated $3 million in revenue last year.


Why all the excitement? No one seems to know, including Morgan Stanley, which issued a research note Thursday expressing bewilderment.

"We do struggle to identify significant thesis changing/accelerating events since the time of our initiation in early December of 2019," wrote analyst Adam Jonas in a note titled "Even Spaceships Must Return to Earth."

Jonas said he was surprised by the volume and volatility of the stock and he urged investors to be cautious. "A modest correction is overdue, and frankly, healthy," he wrote.

Investors did not seem phased by the warning, however, as the stock was nearly flat in Thursday's trading session after the note was published, though it dropped nearly 10% in after-hours trading. The stock closed Thursday at $37.26 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Virgin Galactic became the first publicly traded commercial space tourism company in October, going through a reverse merger.

The company's two competitors, Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, are privately held. Blue Origin, headquartered near Seattle is funded almost entirely by the Amazon CEO while Hawthorne-based SpaceX is VC and debt funded. The company, which is now valued at over $33 billion, got its latest financing from an $800 million Revolver facility from Bank of America in December.

Virgin Galactic will report earnings for only the second time as a public company on Feb. 25

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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How ‘Funny Water Company’ Liquid Death Made H2O Worth $700 Million

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

How ‘Funny Water Company’ Liquid Death Made H2O Worth $700 Million
Liquid Death Files Paperwork to Raise $15 Million

When Santa Monica-based Liquid Death launched with funding from neighboring venture capital firm Science Inc. in 2018, the Los Angeles startup world – and everyone else – had nothing but jokes. But with the company’s latest $700 million valuation, it appears the joke is on the rest of us.

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